There’s something about the mountains that has always drawn a certain kind of people — the fearless and adventurous. Idyllwild Arts Academy, located in the hilly haven of Southern California’s San Jacinto Mountains, draws these sorts of talents to its picturesque campus every year.
Young people here graduate with 21st century skills and a global network of support. “The Idyllwild Arts campus was the most open-minded and inspiring community I’ve ever been part of,” says graduate Kai Krause. “It was the perfect environment to find myself artistically and personally.”
Idyllwild Arts Academy is a creative sanctuary for those who want to blaze their own trail, map their own path, and be surrounded by the majestic and untamed. Just two hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, Southern California’s only boarding arts high school offers a variety of majors — Music, Visual Arts, Creative Writing, Fashion Design, Theatre, Dance, Film and Digital Media — along with college-prep academics.
While so many US schools have moved to teaching online, Idyllwild Arts Academy students are attending in-person classes on campus — with meticulous health and safety measures in place.
“It was so lovely to have the students begin coming back to campus in October,” says Head of School Marianne Kent-Stoll. “Obviously, campus life is different because of the pandemic. But we’re working tremendously hard to keep everyone safe, so it feels like we’re doing more than ever for our students. We admire the determination and dedication of our students to pursue their art despite the challenges imposed by COVID-19.”
Film and Digital Media major GaHyeong “Skyler” Lee, from Korea, was impressed by how the Academy got together when the pandemic hit, so much so that she’s even turned the crisis into inspiration for her scripts. “Everyone understands the pandemic and is here for each other, making everyone feel included,” Lee says.
Strong collaborative ties between students and faculty sustain a learning environment that is supportive and secure — the cornerstone of the Idyllwild Arts culture. This culture encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, too — for example, when Fashion Design students create costumes for the Dance Department.
Passionate teachers make sure that all students take these multidisciplinary experiences and turn them into their own “Idyllwild edge.” They are more than qualified to do so — Fashion Design faculty members, for example, have designed for Anne Klein and Debra McGuire, and worked as stylists for Santa Fe Opera, Tulsa Ballet Theatre, and the Pasadena Shakespeare Company Film Festival.
Classes are small and seminar-style, providing the ideal setting for teachers to impart their knowledge and guide students to create the world anew. They teach individuality and spur students to pursue their private dreams for the public good.
In other words, in a world where children are to be seen and not heard, Idyllwild Arts Academy students learn how to roar. “Idyllwild Arts Academy is the ultimate experience,” recalls graduate Dhaivat Mehta. “It helped me grow from a sheltered comic book geek, to express myself to the best of my ability.”
Victoria Lubliner, eleventh-grade Musical Theatre major from Brazil, adds that, “What I like most about Idyllwild is the community behind you. They are always there to support you and your art. I know that if I fall, they are going to be there to help me get up, and that with every bold choice I make, they will walk with me until the end.”
Diverse yet intimate, multicultural yet deliberately secluded, ambitious yet supportive — these factors let the arts become the greatest teacher of humanity, to the boundless advantage of Idyllwild Arts students.